The initial Bulldogs-Aggies SEC baseball series opens Friday with a 6:30 p.m. contest. Saturday’s 12:30 p.m. game will be televised regionally by SportSouth while Sunday’s series finale is set for a 1 p.m. start. The radio broadcast of all three games of the inaugural MSU-Texas A&M SEC series will be carried on the statewide MSU Baseball Radio Network and available online to HailStateTV subscribers (http://www.hailstate.com/hstvlive). Live video of the Friday and Sunday contests will also be available through HSTV via a stream share courtesy of Texas A&M.
Senior southpaw Luis Pollorena (5-1, 3.29), one of two Bulldogs from the Lone Star State, will open on the mound for MSU and work opposite Aggie sophomore righty Daniel Mengden (4-1, 1.86). Senior righty Kendall Graveman (4-2, 1.99), honored as the SEC Pitcher of the Week following last Saturday’s complete-game shutout of Florida, is set to open on the hill for State Saturday, while the Bulldogs’ Sunday starter has not been determined. Pollorena is from Laredo, Texas, while Bulldog junior infielder Brett Pirtle hails from Tyler, Texas.
Mississippi State enters the weekend have won four of its last five games. The Bulldogs sandwiched non-conference wins away from home against South Alabama (6-4) and Ole Miss (5-1) around the team’s first conference series win, a 2-1 showing (7-3, 2-0, 3-8) at Dudy Noble Field against SEC East rival Florida. With a 5-7 mark, MSU begins the weekend in fifth place in the SEC West and tied with Florida for eighth in the overall league standings. Texas A&M, 6-6 in league play after four weekends of SEC competition, is fourth in the SEC West and tied (with Kentucky) for sixth in the overall standings.
This weekend’s trip to College Station is the third all-time for Mississippi State baseball. State claimed a pair of wins (17-9, 11-9) during a 1986 spring break trip to A&M and during the 1998 NCAA Central Regional Tournament won the last two of three tournament games played with the host Aggies (3-4, 10-9, 11-5). The Pat McMahon-coached Bulldogs also nipped Washington (7-6) and Rice (15-14) at Olsen Field en route to the regional title and the seventh of MSU’s eight advancements to the NCAA College World Series.
Junior outfielder Hunter Renfroe (.411, 10 HR, 38 RBI), on the initial watch list for the 2013 Golden Spikes Awards, paces MSU at plate. One of four SEC players sporting batting averages of .400 or better, Renfroe ranks second in slugging percentage (.804) and home runs (10) and third in RBI (38). Junior infielder Alex Detz (.340) shares the SEC lead with 31 walks and ranks second in the league with a .496 on-base percentage, while sophomore relief pitcher Ross Mitchell (6-0, 0.98) tops the SEC’s pitching charts in earned run average.
The Bulldog defense has played 19 error-free games and sports the SEC’s second-highest fielding percentage at .977. MSU has turned an SEC-most 46 double plays and led the nation in twin-killings to start the week. Junior shortstop Adam Frazier (.342) has assisted with 38 of those DPs in 2013 and 99 for his career.
Mississippi State takes a break from non-conference play next week in advance of the Thursday-through-Saturday Super Bulldog Weekend series against Auburn April 18-20. The Thursday series opener, set for a national telecast on the SEC/ESPNU Game of the Week series, features a special t-shirt giveaway for fans and a postgame fireworks display.